Tales of Transatlantic Freedom is a musical tour of our global community.
Andrea Baker got applause for saying, “It’s not about putting diversity into music, it’s about putting diversity back into music,” or at least words to that effect.
It’s a diverse performance, starting with Howard Moody playing the inside of a piano and Baker’s singing voice echoing from the shadows. It’s a while before this talented singer shows her face, preferring instead to stalk around behind the heavy curtains of Greenside’s Emerald Theatre.
I heard opera and an aria composed by a musician who took the genre from the United States back to Africa. The audience was treated to jazz and gospel and that avant-garde opening track.
Tales of Transatlantic Freedom included washboard rattles, songs by Robert Burns and some blues.
The show runs only from the 16th to the 19th and lasts 70 minutes, which means a late-night school day visit. It’s worth it, though.
What to expect
Greenside’s Emerald Theatre is that church off Nicolson Square, and inside is comfortable and spacious. There are three sides of seats, so a good view all around and the big centre stage homes a piano, an arty tree and other decorations.
Andrea Baker works the area well, running around with more energy than I have, vanishing off to the corners and retreating from the spotlight occasionally. When Andrea isn’t commanding our attention, it is because she’s ceded ground to Howard Moody, who may have risen like a musical phoenix from the piano to play other instruments.
I’ve mentioned the washboard already, but I was most impressed by the piano stool that was also a drum. How clever. I suspect I’m an uncultured fool for not knowing about seat drums already.
There’s no intermission, no need for one, as Andrea Baker will keep you pleasantly distracted with music and the occasional aside for the duration.
Vibe and performance
Andrea Baker can sing, and Howard Moody can play; in fact, Howard does both, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Andrea could pick up an instrument too. The set oozes music. And talent.
However, Tales of Transatlantic Freedom does not ooze pop music. In fact, Tales of Transatlantic Freedom is almost anti-pop. These are the songs we don’t hear much any more.
Fighting the range and diversity of the song selection is the inescapable truth that there’s only one Andrea Baker, and while the songs differ, the voice is the same. Howard Moody joins in from time to time, but we’re used to that very quickly. If only some wealthy backer and stumped up a supporting band!
Let’s also not gloss over this performance being called Tales of Transatlantic Freedom. Another inescapable truth is that the British collective took part in slavery; Edinburgh still has buildings and statues that seem to celebrate that shameful heritage. The songs and dialogue here will remind us of that.
I feel more cultured for attending Tales of Transatlantic Freedom and/but I left thinking about reparations due in compensation for the crimes of the past.
I’ve encountered such evident musical talent but wished this cleverly crafted theatrical treat had enough funding to go to town.
Golly, Andrea can sing, and I suspect Howard could squeeze a tune from a length of pipe and an old tin of beans. But much of this was new music to me, or not music I’d usually point Spotify at. While that’s the point, to a degree, it’s also the challenge.
A review of Tales of Transatlantic Freedom
Andrea is a talented singer, and Howard is a creative musician who can make music out of anything. However, much of the music they played was new to me or not the kind of music I would usually listen to on Spotify. While this was part of the show’s appeal, it was also a challenge to my musical tastes.